By Marcia de Souza | Translation: Kate Fisher
The glaciers, considered to be the thermostat of the planet’s climactic fluctuations, have dramatically diminished in size during the past 50 years. Following The International Panel on Climactic Change, an agency connected to the U.N. (United Nations), studies show in Antarctica alone the temperature rose 2.5 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and each year the region loses up to 12 thousand square kilometers (approximately 7 thousand square miles) of ice.
Since the 1960’s, when the satellite monitoring of the climate began, it has been made possible to register a 10% reduction of the layer of ice that covers the Earth. The highlights of this are noticed in various corners of the planet; spring begins earlier and fall lasts longer. Furthermore peak temperatures are at the most crucial, the freezing records in winter and the explosions of heat in the summer will happen more frequently each year.
The world climate is suffering a sort of reversal. As each year passes, places considered to be hot are cooling more and more, as long as cooler places continue to warm. Meteorologists agree that temperature changes in rainy climates cause variations of snowstorms and the level of the oceans to rise, which are going to continue extending into the coming generations.
In a European summer of 2003 that was historic, the temperatures reached record highs that killed 20,000 people. According to data from the World Health Organization, between 2000 and 2003 the warming of the earth caused the deaths of approximately 150,000 people worldwide. In Brazil, since 2000,at the peak of summer, we see prolonged rains that results in thousands of homeless and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
All these natural disasters are currently happening because of the climate imbalance on the planet on which we all are living. Human beings have changed the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Sources from the Brazilian Foundation for Sustainable Development say that in the last 150 years, a 30% rise in the concentration of carbon gas occurred, of which the Earth’s metabolism can only absorb half.
Scientists estimate that the average temperature of the planet will rise 4.5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) in the next few decades, and that the level of the ocean is rising between 70 and 80 centimeters (27.3 and 31.2 inches) per year which is due to the melting of the polar ice caps.
When the sun’s rays fall upon the Earth, the heat is absorbed by the atmosphere and by the water in the oceans, and then it is emitted back into space in the form of radiation. The emission of polluting gasses, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2) released by factory smokestacks, car exhaust and by other human activities such as deforestation, drives up the concentration of pollution.
All this further worsens the green house effect, which functions as a veil that covers the Earth’s atmosphere and alters the fluctuation of the radiation cast back out to space.From 1861 scientists began to measure the temperature on the planet and there have been considerable increases since 1990. The expectations of meteorologists are of continuous changes and new temperature records, which leaves scientists and the humanity of planet Earth worried.
The consequences of the Earth’s imbalance, also means animal life cannot find refuge. Investigations led by The World Wildlife Federation (W.W.F.), indicate that countries such as Canada, Russia, Sweden and Finland, may lose more than two thirds of their native inhabitants. The situation may be even more terrifying if the promises, sealed into the Kyoto Protocol (the international accord that aims to insure a reduction of the toxic pollution and effects of toxic gases that are the results of human activities) don’t come true.
* This article was originally written in the year 2004.
*Marcia de Souza is a book and writing lover. She is Brazilian and lived abroad Brazil (Los Angeles and Moscow) for years, then returned to her native Recife where she work as a secretary executive.